Elections in Palestine
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Officeholders whose status is disputed are shown in italics
Elections for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) were held in Palestinian Autonomous areas from 1994 until their transition into the State of Palestine in 2013. Elections were scheduled to be held in 2009, but was postponed because of the Fatah–Hamas conflict. President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to stay on until the next election, but he is recognised as president only in the West Bank and not by Hamas in Gaza. The Palestinian National Authority has held several elections in the Palestinian territories, including elections for president, the legislature and local councils. The PNA has a multi-party system, with numerous parties. In this system, Fatah is the dominant party.
The first legislative and presidential elections were held in 1996; the first local elections in January–May 2005. Previous (failed) Legislative Council elections were held in 1923 under the British Mandate, and previous municipal elections were held in 1972 and 1976, organized by the Israeli occupational government.
The Palestinian Legislative Council passed a law in June 2005 (signed by Abbas on 13 August 2005), to increase the number of members from 88 to 132, with half to be elected using proportional representation and half by plurality-at-large voting in traditional constituencies. The January 2005 presidential election was won by Abbas of Fatah, while the January 2006 legislative election was won by Hamas. In 2007, a Presidential decree abolished the constituency seats with all seats to be elected from a national list, and prohibited parties which did not acknowledge the PLO's right to represent the Palestinian people (specifically Hamas) from contesting the election. An opinion poll suggested that a majority of Palestinians supported the change, while Hamas called it illegal.
Importance of the elections
Elections in the Palestinian Authority are held to exercise the Palestinian right to self-determination in connection with their right to establish their own state, but are held under military occupation. They are held in the framework of the Oslo Accords, meaning that the power of the PNA was (and is) limited to matters such as culture, education, ID-cards, and the distribution of land and water as per the Oslo Interim Agreement.
Israel does not allow free exercise of political activities; checkpoints and separation walls hinder many social activities. The Legislative Council cannot properly function because free travel is impossible, especially between Gaza and the West Bank, regardless of hostilities between Fatah and Hamas. Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and other politicians have been subject to lengthy detentions by Israel or even killed, particularly those of Hamas. In October 2007, 2 ex-ministers and 45 PLC members were in Israeli detention. In July 2012, there were 4,706 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Of these, 22 were PLC members, of which 18 were in administrative detention. The November 2013 figures of Addameer give about 5,000 prisoners imprisoned by Israel, of which 14 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (10 PLC members in administrative detention).
In the Gaza Strip
Following the Fatah–Hamas conflict that started in 2006, Hamas formed a government ruling the Gaza Strip without elections. Gazan Prime Minister Haniyye announced in September 2012 the formation of a second Hamas government, also without elections.
1996 parliamentary elections
At the 1996 general election, Fatah won 55 of the 88 seats from multi-member constituencies, with the number of representatives from each constituency determined by population. Some seats were set aside for the Christian and Samaritan communities. 51 seats were allocated to the West Bank, 37 to the Gaza Strip. Five out of 25 female candidates won a seat.
2006 parliamentary elections
At the 2006 legislative election, six parties and 4 independents won seats. Change and Reform (ie., Hamas) won 44.45% of the vote and 74 seats, while Fatah won 41.43% of the vote and 45 seats.
1996 presidential elections
The 1996 president election was won by Yassir Arafat with 88.2% of the vote.
2005 presidential elections
2005 local elections
Local elections in 2005 were held in four stages, but were never finalized. The last stage was held on December 23, 2005. On that day, elections were held in 26 municipalities that included over 140,000 eligible voters in Jericho and 25 villages in the West Bank. Over a quarter of Palestinian population was not included in these elections, including major towns such as Hebron. Conflict between Hamas and Fatah anfter legislative elections in 2006 placed local elections on hold.
2010 and 2012 local elections
Four year term of local councils in Palestinian Authority expired in January 2009. Council of Ministers called for local elections to be held on 17 July 2010, but after Fatah proved incapable of agreeing on list of candidates, the call for elections was canceled on 10 June 2010. The election was postponed and was later held in 2012 after several delays.
See here for a useful set of maps in Arabic.
2016 and 2017 local elections
The elections were planned for October 8, 2016 but were delayed until May 13, 2017.
Central Elections Commission
Following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1993, the "Elections Commission" was formed to administer the first Palestinian Presidential and Legislative elections in 1996. It was part of the PA. To create an independent and neutral body, the Central Elections Commission (CEC) was established in October 2002 under the General Elections Law of 1995. The elections Law issued on August 2005 stipulated that the CEC is “ the supreme body that undertakes the management, supervision, preparation and organization of elections and to take all necessary measures to ensure its integrity and freedom’’.
Under the Local Council Elections Law No. (10) of 2005, the Central Elections Commission became responsible for the organizing of local elections, in addition to organizing elections of the President of the Palestinian National Authority and members of the Legislative Council.
External election assistance
The Elections Reform Support Group (ERSG) was formed with support from the United States and the European Union to support Palestinian elections. One of the leading organizations for the ESRG is the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which has actively assisted the Central Election Commission in 2004-2005 with the help of USAID. They continue to support the election commission.
- From the Oslo II-accord:
1. Israel shall transfer powers and responsibilities as specified in this Agreement ... Israel shall continue to exercise powers and responsibilities not so transferred.
5 a. In accordance with the DOP, the Council will not have powers and responsibilities in the sphere of foreign relations, which sphere includes the establishment abroad of embassies, consulates or other types of foreign missions and posts or permitting their establishment in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the appointment of or admission of diplomatic and consular staff, and the exercise of diplomatic functions.
5 b. ... the PLO may conduct negotiations and sign agreements with states or international organizations for the benefit of the Council in the following cases only: 1. economic agreements ...; 2. agreements with donor countries for the purpose of implementing arrangements for the provision of assistance to the Council ; 3. agreements for the purpose of implementing the regional development plans ...; 4. cultural, scientific and educational agreements.
- Report: Abbas won't run for another term Ynetnews, 16 December 2008
- Aude Signoles, Local Government in Palestine. University of Galatasaray, Turkey; October 2010.
- Elections Law No 9 of 2005, Article (2). 13 August 2005. Source
- Abbas announces amended electoral law
- UN General Assembly, Resolution 58/292. Status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 17 mei 2004 (doc.nr. A/RES/58/292).
- ProCon.org, 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement. 28 September 1995. pdf at unhcr
- CEIRPP, 4 oktober 2007, Report of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, pag. 11, par. 30 (doc.nr. A/62/35)
- Addameer, Addameer Monthly Detention Report - 1 July 2012 Archived 19 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine..
- Addameer, Palestinian Legislative Council Members Archived 2013-04-12 at the Wayback Machine., juni 2012
- Middle East Monitor (MEMO), Palestinian elected representatives are still detained by Israel, 14 september 2011
- Addameer Monthly Detention Report - 1 November 2013.
- Central Elections Commission (CEC), Results of first General election, 1996. Here available
- About the CEC. Central Elections Commission. Accessed December 2015
- http://www.ifes.org/westbankgaza.html?page=past IFES West Bank/Gaza. Accessed June 30, 2009
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